Doug Emhoff Opens up in His First Interview Since Becoming Second Gentleman

On August 11, when now-President Joe Biden selected then-Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, it was natural for Americans to have some questions about her as a candidate. And even more so on November 7, when the pair was elected to the White House, making Harris America's first Black woman and first Asian American vice president.

What's her background? What committees did she sit on? (We've got those answers here, if you're curious.) But aside from all of that, the historic news sparked our interest in her personal life—particularly when it comes to her devoted husband, Douglas Emhoff.

And Emhoff is clearly a supportive spouse. Upon the news of the win, he immediately tweeted, "So proud," with a sweet photo embracing his wife.

Not to mention that he describes himself in his Twitter bio as "Devoted dad. Proud husband to @KamalaHarris." In November 2020, the New York-bred lawyer announced that he would leave his job at a law firm to carry out his duties as the nation's first-ever second gentleman—a role that he is deeply honored to fill. "It reminds me of a story Kamala likes to tell about her mother Shyamala, who would always say to her daughters, 'You may be the first, but you better not be the last,'" he said in an article for GQ. "I want that to be true of me, too. I may be the first second gentleman, but I know I won’t be the last."

And that's not Emhoff's only new job: Like First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Emhoff is teaching. In January, Emhoff joined the faculty at Georgetown University Law Center, where he's teaching a two-credit course on entertainment law disputes. "I've long wanted to teach and serve the next generation of young lawyers," Emhoff said in a statement. "I couldn't be more excited to join the Georgetown community."

And, of course, he's also supporting the vice president's career. "I'm only in this role because the country elected the first woman vice president and that happens to be my wife, Kamala Harris," he said in an interview with NBC News."So I just start there. I also start with: I'm a husband and a father first and just support her in any way I can."

And she returns the sentiment. "I love my husband," Harris once told Now This. "He is funny. He is kind. He is patient. He loves my cooking. He's just a really great guy."

With those endearing words in mind, we learned more about Harris's husband, Douglass Emhoff.

Douglas Emhoff is a lawyer—turned second gentleman and professor.

Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tom Williams - Getty Images

Born in Brooklyn, New York and a graduate of the University of Southern California's law school, up until recently, Emhoff was a litigator and partner at DLA Piper Law Firm, where he worked out of both their California and D.C. offices with a specialty in entertainment and intellectual property law. According to the firm's site, his accomplishments include "representing the rights holders of a famous animated character in copyright and trademark disputes," and the defense of a "prominent former NFL and Olympic athlete in a civil action brought by the SEC."

However, days after his wife's historic election, he announced he would leave his private law practice to focus on his new role of second gentleman, though Harris joked during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, that she'll "call him 'honey.'"

While Emhoff is the first man to ever hold that position, he's taking his cues from all the women that have come before him. "Here’s the truth: generations of women before me have used this platform to advocate for causes they believe in and build trust in our institutions at home and abroad—often without much accolade or acknowledgment," he wrote in GQ. "It’s on their shoulders I stand. And it’s their legacy of progress I will try to build on as second gentleman."

And he hopes to set an example not only for future second gentlemen, but also for men across the country. "Men have to step up and step up for the people that they love and actually show it," Emhoff told NBC News. "Don't keep it inside, don't hide it, but it's OK to show it. It's manly to love and care about others."

But second gentleman isn't the only title Emhoff is adding to his already impressive résumé. In December, Georgetown University Law Center announced that Emhoff would be joining the faculty of the Washington, D.C.-based university, where he'll teach a two-credit course on entertainment law disputes. "Doug is one of the nation’s leading intellectual property and business litigators, and he has a strong commitment to social justice," Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor said in a statement. "I know our students will greatly benefit from his experience and insight, and I am eagerly looking forward to his arrival."

He has two children from his previous marriage—Cole and Ella.

The 56-year-old—who was born just seven days before his wife, also 56, on October 13—has two kids with his ex-wife, Kerstin. According to a March 2018 Vogue article about Harris, his son Cole is a graduate of Colorado College, while his younger daughter Ella is a graduate of Parsons School of Design.

The two affectionately call their stepmother "Momala" and, according to THR, she wore Converse and brought cookies when she first met them.

Photo credit: Rob Carr
Photo credit: Rob Carr

In an article for Elle, Harris wrote that she and Kerstin "are dear friends" and said that "our modern family is almost a little too functional." The presidential candidate continued to open up about what her family means to her.

They are my endless source of love and pure joy. I am so thankful to Doug, to Kerstin, and most of all, to Ella and Cole. And as our family embarks together on this new journey—one that has taken me to South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Nevada, and Michigan in the last few weeks alone—I can say one thing with certainty, my heart wouldn’t be whole, nor my life full, without them.

Emhoff and Kamala Harris met on a blind date.

The two were set up by one of the veep's close friends, PR consultant Chrisette Hudlin.

"He said something to the effect of ‘She’s really hot,’" Hudlin told Marie Claire of Emhoff's thoughts on the politician before they even started dating. “He was complimenting her, and at the same time he was admiring her, and I liked that."

Marie Claire also reports that the morning after their first date, he emailed Harris: “I really like you.” After nearly a year of dating, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that they were engaged on March 27, 2014. The proposal was intimate and low key, with Emhoff getting down on one knee at Harris's California apartment and presenting her with a diamond and platinum engagement ring.

Kamala and Doug had a courthouse wedding.

Since the politician had said she did not believe in long engagements, they were married a little over four months after their engagement in a private ceremony at the Santa Barbara Courthouse, according to The Chronicle. They wrote their own vows, and to recognize Emhoff's faith, the two honored a time-tested Jewish tradition and broke a glass. It was also a family affair, with her niece reading the poem, "Touched by an Angel" by Maya Angelou and Harris' sister, Maya Harris West, acting as officiant.

This August 22 will mark their seven-year wedding anniversary. "Happy anniversary to the man who always knows how to make me laugh," she said in a celebratory Instagram post last year. "Love you."

He's always has Harris's back—both literally and figuratively.

On June 1, 2019, as Harris was on stage speaking at the MoveOn Big Ideas Forum, an animal rights activist rushed the stage, snatching away the senator's microphone in an effort to speak to the crowd. Harris was unharmed and quickly walked off the stage. But along with a handful of others, Emhoff was quick to react, jumping up onto the platform to help drag the protester away. You can catch the intense moment above.

But all was well, as he later tweeted that day: "Thx for all the kind notes. We are good. I love ⁦@KamalaHarris and would do anything for her."

While Harris now has the Secret Service to intervene on her behalf, it's clear she can still count on Emhoff's unwavering support. "No one wants to see anyone they love attacked or criticized, but that's part of what she signed up for in this life of public service," he told NBC News. "It's part of the territory, and for her—if you could see what I see, behind the scenes—she's just focused on the work, working hard and getting it done for the American people."

He added: "She has faced challenges as a ground-breaker her whole career. I think she said at times, when you're breaking barriers, there's breaking involved. And breaking means you might get cut sometimes. But that's okay, it's worth it. Because she's leaving a path for others."

He has a few fun hobbies.

According to Vogue, Emhoff loves to golf and play fantasy football. He even had a team named Nirvana after the 90s grunge band. Oh, and we have to mention his seriously impressive "dad dance moves" that he showed off while accompanying his wife at San Francisco Pride 2019.

"If I can do these dad moves with my dad bod, then hopefully you all can help @KamalaHarris finish 2Q fundraising as strong as possible! Please go to: (link: thx!" he tweeted.

But in addition to his pastimes, he's known to help out his wife—whose favorite thing to do in her leisure time is cook. "I've gotten pretty handy in the kitchen as her sous-chef," he told the magazine. Point proven by Harris' adorable caption in the Instagram post featured above.

Emhoff has his own social media hashtag.

As his popularity grew on the campaign trail and he continued his fervent support of Harris online (we get into that next) Emhoff earned himself a mini fan club on Twitter called the #DougHive. If you explore the hashtag for yourself, you'll see a handful of encouraging messages for the entertainment lawyer.

And he knows how to perfectly support Harris as our first second gentleman.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

If his Twitter account is any indication, the lawyer is the ultimate hype-man we all deserve in a partner. When Harris was running for president, a hefty percent of his tweets were related to her, from promoting her new book: spotting her on TV.

He also rocked her campaign swag...

...and captured her on the trail.

Of course, his response to his wife's announcement that she was entering the 2020 race was adorable.

And he stepped up when she made the difficult decision to drop out of the running for president in December 2019. “She made that decision, and I would have supported whatever she decided,” Emhoff told Marie Claire. “But I’m not her political adviser. I’m her husband. And so my role was to be there for her, to love her, to have her back, to talk it through, to help her.”

And he's fully prepared to support her in her role. "I found that as I began dipping my toe into Kamala’s world, it brought us even closer together," he said in the article for GQ. "I realized how much of yourself you leave on the trail, how much these stories weigh on you, and—though I couldn’t imagine it possible before this—I grew to understand and admire who she is and what she’s been able to accomplish even more."

Now that's relationship goals. And in case you needed any more proof of his dedication, we leave you with this tweet:

"Can confirm: We met, fell madly in love (still are), got married and continue to live very happily ever after."

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